January 17, 2023
We recently told you how Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker had threatened legislators and law enforcement officers in the state who don’t intend to comply with or enforce House Bill 5471—the state’s arguably unconstitutional new ban and registration requirement on popular semi-autos and regular capacity magazines. Now, some law enforcement officers are speaking out boldly against the measure anyway and vowing to not enforce its provisions. Coles County Sheriff Kent Martin believes targeting the law-abiding with the ban and registration requirement isn’t an effective way to address violent crime.
“Citizens who own these firearms legally, have done things properly to get them and who use them responsibly, they’re not the ones who are the problems,” Martin said in an exclusive interview with Firearms News. “They’re not the once committing the gun crimes. I don’t see how requiring a citizen of this county to do that, and to bring their constitutional rights into the equation, is going to stop gun violence in areas by people who are criminals, don’t follow the laws and don’t follow the rules.”
Martin is adamant that neither the bans nor the requirement that residents register their firearms in order to keep them will enhance the safety of his constituents. “Neither of these actions will make Coles County safer,” Martin said. “The Coles County Sheriff’s Office will continue to respond to and investigate crimes involving firearms which occur within our jurisdiction and will exercise discretion based on the facts of each individual case. But we will not be checking to ensure that lawful gun owners register their firearms with the state.” Martin said concern for the lawful gun owners in his county prompted him to publicly voice his opinion about the matter.
“I’ve spoken out against it because I’ve taken an oath to uphold the Constitution, and part of my duties and obligations are to protect the rights of the citizens in my county,” he said. “I’m concerned that lawful gun owners—citizens who currently, legally possess items—are going to be required to register those and pay a fee to the government to continue to have those. And I don’t believe that’s right.”
Martin said he’s not alone on this issue. In fact, at last count sheriffs from 85 of the state’s 102 counties opposed the new law and say they will not enforce it. Despite the earlier threats from Gov. Pritzker concerning those who won’t follow the law or enforce the law, Martin and other sheriffs continue to fight for citizens without fear of retribution from state leaders. “It hasn’t really been a concern of mine to this point because my first responsibility is to the citizens of this county, and I’m going to do what I believe my duty is and what my oath requires,” he said. “And my first and foremost priority is to the folks who live in this county.
“We need to stand strong. Once we allow our rights to start to be eroded away, that’s a dangerous path to start down.” Logan County Sheriff Mark Landers has also made his thoughts known on the matter. “I, among many others, believe that HB 5471 is a clear violation of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution,” Landers said in a press release. “Therefore, as the custodian of the jail and chief law enforcement official for Logan County, neither myself nor my office will be checking to ensure that lawful gun owners register their weapons with the State, nor will we be arresting or housing law-abiding citizens that have been charged solely with non-compliance of this Act.”
About the Author
Freelance writer and editor Mark Chesnut is the owner/editorial director at Red Setter Communications LLC. An avid hunter, shooter and political observer, he has been covering Second Amendment issues and politics on a near-daily basis for over 20 years.
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